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Meet PEI and Grand Challenges Past Interns: 2013


Alison Campion, 2016
I spent the summer assisting a geoscience graduate student collect rock samples in the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia. The samples we collected formed 2.7 billion years ago and contain magnetic minerals that recorded the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field at the time of formation, which can be correlated with the latitude at which the rock formed. read more >>

Michael S. Chang, 2016
Molecular Biology
The molecular biology lab team with which I interned this summer focused on using sea urchins as a model for anti-aging and cancer research. Sea urchins have an incredible range of natural life spans (including extreme longevity and negligible senescence) and have shown very few instances of cancer in comparison to other marine organisms. read more >>

Tiffany Cheung, 2015
The goal of my summer project in the Morel lab was to address and understand the role of ocean acidification on the photosynthetic pathways of phytoplankton. As this is my second year working on this project, I chose to narrow my research focus on Rubisco, a crucial enzyme in carbon fixation. read more >>

Allanna Daniels, 2016
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This summer, I worked as a research intern with Professor Alessandro Catenazzi to study the impact and prevalence of the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytritium dendrobatidis, on amphibian species on the eastern slope of the Andes in Peru. We studied amphibians at three different biological stations, each at different levels of elevation, to determine if the survival rates of specific species correlated to changes in elevation and/or temperature. read more >>

Bruna Favetta, 2015
Chemical and Biological Engineering
The goal of this research project was to further our understanding of baleen whale migration. There are a variety of locations where whales have been spotted feeding and calving but it is not yet well defined why these whales go where they go. read more >>

Katrina Hall, 2014
Woodrow Wilson School
Facing severe coastal erosion, the state of Louisiana has developed a plan to create sediment diversions to nourish and rebuild the coastline. As an intern with EDF this summer, I studied how such diversions in the Mississippi River Delta area might impact the aquatic species that are most central to Louisiana's recreational and commercial fisheries. read more >>

Rebecca Haynes, 2015
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I spent the summer of 2013 on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. The dense, biologically diverse rainforest where I lived was the perfect place to study the conservation of jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, whose populations have decreased in size and range due to poaching and destruction of habitat. I investigated this problem by studying both the forest and the people living around it. read more >>

David Hoyos, 2016
Growth in the anoxic (lack of oxygen) “dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is attributing to nitrogen fertilizer runoff from farms into the Mississippi River, ultimately killing marine animals. In order to understand how the environment is reacting to the increasing levels of nitrogen attributed to agriculture, another Princeton student and I examined the roles that denitrifying microbes had in reducing increasing ambient nitrogen levels. read more >>

Ani Ivanova, 2014
This summer I interned at the architectural firm EFGH, hoping to familiarize myself with the implementation of environmental thought at each step of the architectural design process. I started by learning how to use essential software (Autodesk® Ecotect® Analysis, Grasshopper, and Kangaroo) that facilitates the environmental design process. read more >>

Emily Kaplan, 2014
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
As an intern with Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, I studied the population and behavior of Canis aureus, the golden jackal, on Samos Island, Greece—currently the only island in the Mediterranean with jackals. This summer I helped Archipelagos gather data about the species so that they can better protect them as well as create educational material to teach locals about them. read more >>

Indira Kissoondyal, 2016
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytritium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused a massive decline in semi-aquatic frog populations throughout the eastern Andes for the past two decades. The main goal of this conservation project was to study and monitor the growth of this disease at differing elevations (2900, 1400, and 600 meters). read more >>

Kathryn Little, 2016
Civil and Environmental Engineering
During my summer internship with Princeton University Dining Services, my main responsibility was to produce an analysis/metric of the food products purchased by the university over the past fiscal year. This food metric sorts the food items into categories based on sustainability factors such as local foods, organic foods, and social responsibility on the part of the companies. read more >>

Rebecca Lowy, 2016
This summer I conducted research on the effect of deforestation on precipitation in Central America. While several previous studies have analyzed the precipitation over long spans of time in the area, few include the recent decade. I accessed satellite data from NASA that measured rainfall in the Central American region, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), from 2001-2011. read more >>

Chamsi Hssaine, 2016, Amanda Li, 2016, Nihar Madhavan, 2015, Caden Ohlwiler, 2015, Andres Parrado, 2015, Kasturi Shah, 2016, Benjamin Tien, 2015
This summer our team travelled to Perú for six weeks to build a potable water system in the community of La Pitajaya, which has no access to drinking water. We aimed to complete the water system for the part of the community at a higher altitude (La Pitajaya Alta), to collect data in the lower part of the community. read more >>

Aleksandra Szczuka, 2014
Chemical Engineering
The overall goal of my project in the Morel lab was to explore the accumulation of mercury as methylmercury in the environment. Alongside research scholar Jeffra Schaefer, I compared the rates of mercury uptake in the mercury methylating bacterium Geobacter and the non-mercury methylating bacterium Shewanella. read more >>

Amy Tourgee, 2014
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Hedin Laboratory at Princeton studying the role of fire in nutrient limitation. For one project, I worked on a meta-analysis to determine whether there was a difference in composition of nitrogen-fixing woody species along the forest-savanna gradient in neo-tropical areas of Brazil and Africa. read more >>

Regina Wang, 2014
This summer I worked at Archipelagos Marine Institute to collect and filter sediment and fish samples that I hope to analyze for microplastic contamination back at Princeton as part of my senior thesis. Throughout the summer, I snorkeled to collect sediment samples, dissected fish for stomach contents, and mixed both in saturated salt solutions that I then filtered and shipped back to Princeton. read more >>

Megan Wellons, 2015
Operations Research and Finanacial Engineering
The goal of my internship with American Native Nursery was to research native plant propagation methods and to develop an Excel model that nurseries can use to run experiments to maximize their yield. For the model we used the Taguchi method. read more >>

Michael Wiest, 2015
Chemical and Biological Engineering
My research this past summer focused on analyzing microplastic concentrations in Aegean Sea sediment and in Aegean sea cucumbers. Microplastics are a growing threat not only to international waters but also to the health of marine life and humans; they endure for an extremely long time and accumulate organic toxins. read more >>

Nicole Zenes, 2015
This summer I worked with the DRN monitoring the construction of a natural gas pipeline by Tennessee Gas Company (TGP). My father works as an environmental scientist for DRN and I joined his project of monitoring the work done by TGP, making sure they followed proper environmental regulations. read more >>

Pranav Badami, 2015
Electrical Engineering
Quantum cascade detectors (QCDs) can be used to detect the presence of certain gases in the atmosphere. As a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern at Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and Environment (MIRTHE), I worked towards designing a commercially-viable QCD system for the detection low-wavelength light which is absorbed by potent greenhouse gases like methane. read more >>

Vincent Bai, 2014
Chemical and Biological Engineering
The overall goal of my summer internship was to contribute to the ongoing research/development and operations at Lightening Energy. Lightening Energy is a small energy company that is working towards developing energy solutions for the future, especially with regards to transportation and grid storage. read more >>

Chang Brian, 2016
The goal of my PEI summer internship was to develop a better catalyst for solar-powered water splitting, mainly to serve as a hydrogen fuel source. Hydrogen can be used as a zero-emission energy source. However, current methods of generating sufficient quantities of hydrogen are problematic in that they are either energy-intensive or create large quantities of greenhouse gases. read more >>

Ethan Campbell, 2016
I worked with AOS graduate student Joe Majkut in Professor Jorge Sarmiento's group this summer. My goal was to answer the following question: How accurately can one reconstruct real-world ocean biogeochemical fields by inverting the sparse and noisy data from the 3600 Argo profiling floats scattered within the world’s oceans? read more >>

Ismael Catovic, 2015
Chemical and Biological Engineering
I was fortunate this summer to work with the Surface Science group at PPPL, headed by Professor Bruce Koel, preparing an Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopic (UPS) instrument for use in the lab. Using techniques such as UPS, the Surface Science group analyzes chemical interactions at the atomic level with the aim of determining the properties of plasma-facing component materials to be used in plasma fusion reactors. read more >>

Elliot Chang, 2016
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Working with a team of other undergraduate Princeton students, I studied water distribution among competing oak and pine trees in the Silas Little Experimental Forest. Using four sheltered and irrigated plots linked to large tanks of isotopically labeled water, we were able to label the water applied to the territory around one focal tree. read more >>

Marius Constantin, 2014
During the summer of 2013 I interned at PPPL, one of the world’s leading laboratories in the field of fusion energy research specializing in tokamak reactors. As the scale of the reactor experiments increases, one of the key challenges that presents itself is the controlled cooling of the plasma layer that is the closest to the reactor wall. read more >>

Jacob Eisenberg, 2016
The overarching goals of my research group were to develop a complex computer model that would simulate the effectiveness of the terrestrial biosphere as carbon sink, and to determine how climate change has, and will, alter that effectiveness. Over the course of the summer, I learned how to use the Ecosystem Demography model version 2 (ED2). read more >>

Chantelle Ekanem, 2016
Chemical Engineering
This summer I was an intern with Lightening Energy, a company that develops Lithium-Ion batteries for applications ranging from vehicles to military equipment. Our projects focused on aiding the company’s battery development, engineering, and commercial product design for methods of energy storage and distribution. read more >>

Elizabeth Gatto, 2016
As an intern with the Economic Policy team at EDF, I worked on projects related to the social cost of carbon, cap and trade, and climate effects of natural gas. In particular, I researched and analyzed monetary damage functions on sea level rise, ocean acidification, and freshwater resources, which estimate future losses in these sectors as a result of climate change. read more >>

Christopher Kwadwo Gordon, 2015
Chemical and Biological Engineering
I really enjoyed my summer research internship with the Loo Group at Princeton University. My project involved using an inkjet printer to deposit carbon nanotubes onto preprocessed silicon wafers to make simple electronic devices (Field Effect Transistors). read more >>

Sarthak Gupta, 2014
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
One of the biggest impediments to the spread of domestic solar photovoltaic (PV) energy in the United States is lack of public awareness – a lot of people tend to think it is unsuitable for their house without looking at the numbers. In the summer of 2013, I worked at Climate Central developing a solar electricity forecasting tool that aims to address this issue. read more >>

Tzu-Yung Huang, 2015
Electrical Engineering
I spent my summer internship at MIRTHE. In my project, we aimed to develop a III-nitride based quantum cascade laser which could be used for longer wavelength trace gas sensing in environmental applications. The main challenge we encountered and aimed to resolve during the duration of this project was the high contact resistances of the device. read more >>

Peter Johnsen, 2015
Surface science plays a key role in catalytic converters, fuel cells, and even the destruction of the ozone layer. Furthering our understanding of this emerging field will increase our ability to design more energy-efficient industrial processes, improve the cost-effectiveness of fuel cells, and combat the chemical activity that occurs on atmospheric microcrystals. read more >>

Jordan Lubkeman, 2016
The objective of my summer internship was to help develop and use a new technique for studying leaf respiration in the light, using stable isotope measurements. Leaf respiration in the light is one important parameter in our understanding of the global carbon cycle and climate change. read more >>

Aidan MacDonagh, 2014
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Magnetic nozzle research, such as the Magnetic Nozzle Experiment (MNX) at PPPL, involves the study of the flow of plasma through spatial constrictions imposed by magnetic fields and physical boundaries that effectively form an analog of the physical nozzle. This research has important applications in both magnetic fusion technology and in spacecraft propulsion technology. read more >>

Nihar Madhavan, 2015
Computer Science
My work this summer was with the Geodynamics Research Group of the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University. Geodynamics, an offshoot of geophysics, studies changes in the earth and geologic phenomena. My project related to levels of ice in the polar regions. read more >>

Nina Masters, 2014
Through my internship this summer, I was able to step outside of the research opportunities typically available to a chemistry major and try my hand at something different—materials science engineering in a mechanical engineering lab. I worked closely with a post-doc in the lab to develop a novel system to encapsulate phase change material. read more >>

Eric Materniak, 2014
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
As an intern at Lightening Energy this past summer, I performed many tasks related to energy storage technology. Lightening Energy, a small company, submits many proposals for military contracts. One such proposal was for a vehicle battery with an increased charge retention life. read more >>

Ryan McNellis, 2015
Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE)
My internship with Lightening Energy (LE) this summer was both rewarding and challenging. LE is a company specializing in technology for advanced battery and rapid recharging for electric motor vehicles and military applications. I was responsible for developing the mathematical models and computer code for a new web application that the company is creating. read more >>

Marina Nogueira, 2016
Molecular Biology
This summer I investigated the role of biofilm streamers in the clogging of porous materials. Biofilms are bacterial communities that occupy most moist surfaces and are known for clogging industrial flow systems and causing medical-device-associated infections. Previous research in the Stone Lab showed that biofilms, in the presence of flow, can form three-dimensional structures. read more >>

Sindiso Nyathi, 2016
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I spent the summer working with four other undergraduates and Prof. Adam Wolf assessing the possible effects of changing climate on transpiration and water use in trees–primarily the white oak, black oak and pitch pine. My role was to determine how different levels of water availability affect transpiration in trees. read more >>

Caden Ohlwiler, 2015
Mechanical Engineering
Current research efforts in Princeton’s ecohydrology lab include studying how trees respond to drought and conducting low-cost environmental monitoring. This summer, I worked on two projects: Designing both a leaf chamber and attachments for the Princeton University Low-Cost Sensors for the Environment (PULSE) sensor project. read more >>

Olamide Oladosu, 2015
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
I spent my summer immersed in the world of photocatalysis, a field that seeks to harness the power of the sun to efficiently run the reactions that will power our world in the future. I began by doing background research into the role of hematite and other semiconducting materials in catalyzing the splitting of water into its constituent parts. read more >>

Elizabeth Paul, 2015
Nuclear fusion has long been regarded as a potential alternative to fossil fuels and a technology that could ensure a safe energy future. An advanced fuel fusion reactor, the Field Reversed Configuration, is especially promising as it is smaller and cleaner than the more widely studied tokamak. read more >>

Zhaonan Qu

Zhaonan Qu, 2015
Fusion energy is among one of the several most promising new energy resources. The Tokamak is a relatively developed fusion reactor that has been utilized to confine fusion plasma, whose temperature could reach 100 million degrees Celsius, so that fusion reactions can take place. read more >>

Kevin Ross, 2014
Civil and Environmental Engineering
This summer, I was an engineering intern on the Climate and Air team for EDF. The majority of the work I performed was based on researching mitigation options for non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In particular, I was heavily involved in EDF's efforts to develop a strategy for hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) mitigation. read more >>

Jordan Shivers, 2016
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Biofilms are antibiotic-resistant communities of bacteria that adhere to moist surfaces and are responsible for numerous medical device-related infections. Under flow conditions in non-uniform environments, certain bacteria form 3D streamers which span across gaps and can cause rapid clogging. read more >>

Bethany Sneathen, 2016
Molecular Biology
During my summer internship with the Caylor Lab in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Princeton University, I studied water transport during drought in oak and pine trees in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Global climate change increases the likelihood of droughts to occur and to be increasingly severe; knowing how various tree species respond to drought aids predictions. read more >>

Nicholas Szamreta, 2014
Chemical and Biological Engineering
This past summer, I had the pleasure of working in the Ceramic Materials Laboratory at Princeton University, where I researched the potential applications of functionalized graphene sheets (FGSs) and room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) in supercapacitors. Supercapacitors present advantages over batteries, because they have much higher power densities and cycle lives. read more >>

Ian Tamargo, 2014
The goal of this project is to manufacture light-emitting diode (LED) displays using three-dimensional (3D) printing. This new approach to electronic device fabrication has the potential to reduce the number of manufacturing steps and the amount of material wasted in conventional processes. My work on this project involved researching and developing materials that can replace components of traditional LED displays. read more >>

Tyler Tamasi, 2015
As an intern with the Loo Organic and Polymer Electronics Laboratory in the Princeton Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, I worked on making new organic small-molecules for use in solar cells. These compounds centered around an isoindigo core. read more >>

Elizabeth Tolman, 2015
This summer, I worked with the fusion department at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. One of the department’s experiments is an advanced fusor, which is a fusion reactor that confines its plasma using a large electric field. Although not likely to produce net energy, the fusor could one day be a commercial source of neutrons. read more >>

Sean Treacy, 2016
This past summer I worked in the Caylor Ecohydrology lab helping to develop a model that describes how trees manage limited water resources. I primarily used a Scanning Electron Microscope to characterize xylem microphysiology in Pine and Oak species from the New Jersey Pinelands during different climate conditions. read more >>

Claire Zarakas, 2016
This summer I investigated herbivory in nitrogen-fixing trees as compared to non-nitrogen-fixing trees in tropical second-growth forests. I spent the first half of the internship doing field work in Panama, where I helped design and implement an experiment that consisted of collecting leaf samples from nitrogen-fixing and non-nitrogen-fixing trees and setting up a comparative branch enclosure study. read more >>

Jennifer Zhou, 2016
Woodrow Wilson School
As the summer intern for the Climate and Energy Policy team at the NRDC Beijing office, my primary project was NRDC's Climate and Energy Map. The Map was designed as an innovative and interactive platform with which the public could access and better understand China's energy portfolio and climate data. read more >>

Emily Bobrick, 2015
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This summer I worked as an intern at Mpala Research Center in Kenya helping to collect data used to monitor the Center’s wildlife population. Every six months, Mpala performs a rigorous survey of the wildlife population using distance sampling; I collected data for their June and July 2013 samplings. read more >>

Jonathan Choi, 2015
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Terrestrial world’s soils provide the second largest carbon sink in the world after the oceans. Understanding how these soils give off and take in carbon dioxide as a result of different environmental pressures from grazing and fire is crucial to understanding the role of African savannas in the global carbon budget. read more >>

Manali Gokhale, 2016
Chemical and Biological Engineering
During my summer at Mpala Research Centre, I worked to measure the population trends of important wildlife species of the Mpala area. The data collected on the populations of several mammal and bird species, many of which are threatened or endangered, was then compared with previous years as part of an ongoing project. read more >>

Ray Grossman, 2015
I spent most of my summer working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and studying their possible applications for ecology. First, I assisted with a project that used a UAV to take aerial photos of a cranberry bog, and stitched the photos together using software. read more >>

Eliza Harkins, 2014
Civil and Environmental Engineering
The goal of my project was to examine the current water systems of 25 rural communities and, from there, create models and predictions of future water availability for those communities, factoring in climate change and increased agricultural activity. read more >>

Kelsey Kane-Ritsch, 2016
During the summer of 2013 I worked in Kenya as a teaching assistant at 10 schools with the Northern Kenyan Conservation Clubs¬—after-school programs that provide students with an understanding of the natural world and the impact that humans have on their environment. The communities in which I taught depend on the land for survival and have experienced severe environmental degradation due to a lack of education in resource management. read more >>

Imani Oliver, 2014
During the summer of 2013 I interned with Northern Kenyan Conservation Clubs, based in rural Kenya. The goal of our program was to make young Kenyan students the “new stewards of the land,” using experiential learning as the platform to encourage conservation. Each week, another intern and I taught environmental conservation lessons consisting of hands-on model making and field exploration. read more >>

Gabrielle Ragazzo, 2015
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The overall goal of the Mapping Africa Project is to obtain more accurate data concerning agricultural distribution for Sub-Saharan Africa by using an Internet mapping initiative on Amazon Mechanical Turk website. In this initiative, online workers are shown a series of aerial images and paid to map the fields. read more >>

Delphine Slotten, 2015
Woodrow Wilson School
My internship work was part of a greater study to determine how two different livestock grazing regimes – traditional and “holistic” – affect the health of livestock; the quantity, quality, and diversity of vegetation; and the presence of wildlife in the West Gate Community Conservancy (WGCC) of Samburu County, Kenya. read more >>

Katherine Smith, 2015
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
My project brought together ecology and chemistry, as I worked for both an ecology professor and an engineering professor with an interest in ecohydrology. I spent my time this summer focusing on water; specifically, a river’s interactions with other parts of the ecosystem, including both flora and fauna. read more >>